Cannondale Moto Carbon 2 Review from Spoke issue 31
A hundred and sixty millimetres of travel. Do I really need that much for my riding? Thats what I asked myself when I first laid eyes on the new Moto Carbon 2 from Cannondale. The previous bike I owned supplied 140 mm of travel and seemed like the best option for the variety of riding I do. Would more travel be necessary?
Cannondale is well known for lightweight, flex resistant alloy bikes and doing things a bit different from the rest of the herd. By its usual standards then, this bike seems quite normal. No oversized alloy and no single-legged Lefty suspension fork here, although at first glance the Moto does look a bit complicated. The front triangle continues the Cannondale philosophy of oversizing things, but this time its organic shape is made with lightweight carbon fibre. The head tube is huge and goes well with the Fox 36 Talas fork. No flex up front here.
The bottom bracket shell is beefed up with additional carbon to ensure the rigidity that Cannondale is known for. The rear end is more familiar and has replaceable dropouts to convert between quick release or RockShox Maxle QR for added stiffness. The Fox DHX 4 air shock floats between the swingarm and the linkage that actuates the shock. The bottom of the shock is attached to the swingarm and the top is fitted to the Hatchet Drive linkage. The odd looking down tube distributes shock forces to the head tube, the strongest junction on the frame, which means other areas of the frame can be made lighter. Cannondale is big on testing, and backs this frame up with a lifetime warranty.
The stock bike came with a DT E2200 wheelset, which is normally at home on a downhill rig, but I switched these for a Roval Traversee wheelset that better suits my all mountain/cross-country type of riding. It has made a big difference on the climbs and so far they are proving to be quite durable. The first time I climbed aboard for the old bike shop car park thrash, I felt at home. The ride position is neutral and provides a great sensation of control. The huge size of the tubing as you glance down is reassuring too. I found the suspension to be fairly easy to set up and have only needed minor adjustments since.
On the very first ride I towed my three-year-old up the hill to home in his trailer, proving that even with another 20 kg or more on the back, this bike can climb. After a few local rides in Wellington I was off to Rotorua for a blokes weekend. Rotovegas has everything that this bike was designed for and I was keen to see how it would fare. No shuttle rides to the top on this tripevery descent had to be earned. As I said, the Moto is a great climber. It pedals as well, if not better, than some shorter travel bikes I have had the pleasure of riding. Gravel road climbs are conquered efficiently with a smooth cadence and when the trail gets rough and rooty, it digs in deep and serves up great traction. Its not designed for cross-country racing, but if I were ever to find myself in an event with it the weak link would be me rather than the bike.
When the trail points downhill the Moto comes to life. This bike loves to be pushed hard on descents. The stiff front end makes for a solid ride and quick changes in direction are snappy. Drive it hard into corners, take drops and jumps with style and grin your way down the trail.
So, has the extra 20 mm of travel made a difference? I would have to say yes. After four months of hard riding, on a variety of terrain and trails, this bike has proved it can climb well and descend better than my previous rig. Not only that, but the Moto has surprised me with its versatility. Brent Burrows